You’re experiencing the drug-addled headiness of being “in love”. All that pesky rational thought has been effectively eliminated by a flood of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin to your brain.
Caffeine or nicotine elevate the effects of the dopamine, a serotonin surge deems you unable to match your socks, and norepinephrine sends your heart racing and your sweat glands into overdrive.
You’re a crazed and sweaty mess and couldn’t be happier. You’re experiencing a serious high unparalleled by anything from the late 1960s and unless your racing heart produces a cardiac incident (or you’re a mouthy flower with an attitude), pain is very far away.
The free fall is terrific, isn’t it? Yeah, I know. Too bad you can’t bottle it and sell it to Axe as a body spray.
Because eventually it’s over and you find yourself back on earth, stumbling from your collapsed parachute. If you’re lucky, this is where the real love begins. The sustained, but far less exciting love. The love that brings pain back into your life.
The thing is, love can be warm and fuzzy and so cute that you want to squash it. Like a puppy. But love is also a lot of work. Also, like a puppy. And I’m talking about genuine love. The kind that will NOT be confused with keeping score or filling a void, activities that would be better left to sporting events and the toilet (which are not mutually exclusive).
So what the hell is love then? I see it kinda like this:
Love is the willingness to extend yourself to facilitate the growth of a living being; to focus on its self-expression and allow it to fulfill its potential. It is a commitment to the effort that goes into accepting and understanding this being.
This being may be your partner, your sister, your planet, your child, your monkey, your monkey’s uncle, whoever. But it’s important to keep in mind that “yourself” needs to be on that list, because while the whole “you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself” adage may be hackneyed, it’s still a fundamental truth.
Whether you’re working on self-love or love for another, to truly love means you have to do it openly and honestly. No parachute. No extra norepinephrine, serotonin or dopamine. Ditch the secrets, the games, the motives and the delusions. Saddle up for reality. Because you’re gonna run into some stuff that will force you to confront, look at and evaluate your own beliefs and desires. And it could get dicey for a bit.
But as Socrates said when he quoted Plato, “an unexamined life is not worth living.” With real love comes examination. And with examination comes the C word. (Yes, change.) And that’s a process that always brings pain.
So yeah. Love hurts. And it’s a lot of work. But I’ll take it because it’s still much less work than hate, and feels a whole lot better.